We found a nice large spot to boondock near Hebgen Lake right before Cherry Hill campground off Denny Creek Road also known as FR 167. There are multiple designated dispersed campgrounds off this road. I was able to have AT&T coverage in this area but no Verizon. We were also told we could find dispersed camping along FR 1700 which would have been our plan B. From our spot, it takes about 25 minutes to get to the west entrance of Yellowstone NP.
Since it was Saturday, we decided to wait on Yellowstone and attempted to reach the Gallatin Petrified Forest from the Tepee Creek trail off highway 191, in the Gallatin NF which boarders the park. We never made it to the forest because we had to take a detour when we reached the boarder of Yellowstone NP. From our map it looked like there was a trail along the boarder but either it disappeared or was never there. The grass was really tall, and I ended up getting a rash from the grass touching my legs the whole time, I lost one of my hiking poles when we were trying to find the trail along the boarder and I never even got a piece of petrified wood. It was a bummer, but we ended up seeing moose and some really spectacular views from the peaks.
The next two days, we tackled the north and south loop respectively. There are multiple geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles along both loops (considering the park is right above a super volcano that is overdue to erupt at any moment). Be prepared as the thermal areas do reek heavily of sulfur. The highlight of the northern loop is Mammoth Hot Springs. There is a long board walk that takes you to all the major thermal activity sites. This area of the park is a mad house, almost like going to Disney. However it is worth visiting as it is unlike any natural wonder I’ve ever seen. The bacteria that live in the thermal areas produce beautiful colors of the entire spectrum. Boiling hot water flows down travertine steps white as snow.
The highlights of the south loop are Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone where you can see the Upper and Lower waterfalls. Old Faithful can take anywhere from 30 min to 1.5 hrs to erupt. We were VERY lucky since we only had to wait 10 sec lol. As we were walking up I saw it spatter and I said “OH she’s about to BLOW!” Tim didn’t believe me but a few moments later she started up. The Falls is where Yellowstone gets it’s name, I think (the walls of the canyon are yellow). The lower falls has an awesome trail called the Tom Miner trail. It is about 300 something iron stairs that takes you almost all the way down to the river and is very steep. There are plenty of places to stop and rest and the views are breath-taking (or maybe it is from all the steps). We saw more bison along the southern loop, hanging around the thermal areas the way families gather around campfires. Other areas in the southern loop worth visiting are Grand Prismatic Spring, Wet Thumb Geyser Basin, and the Sulphur Caldron/Mud Volcano.
We had a great time visiting Yellowstone, it truly is an extraordinary place. A place where the ground steams and boils, rivers and lakes flourish between the mountains, and wildlife freely roam. Next we plan to boondock outside of Grand Teton NP. We most certainly will not be paying to stay in an RV park since they charge between $80-120 a night!!